This Day In Financial History


January 1, 1783 Public debt of the United States is reported at $42 million. Source

January 2, 1934 Pennsylvania opened the first state run liquor store. Today, the PA liquor board says state stores generate about $400 million per year. Source

January 3, 1986 Capital Cities acquired ABC-TV for $3.5 billion. (In 1991, Capital Cities/ABC Inc. was purchased by Disney for a then-record $19 billion). Source

January 4, 1968 Leo Fender sells Fender Guitars for $13 million.

January 5, 1987 President Regan submitted the nation’s first trillion dollar budget. Source

January 6, 1990 NY Lotto pays $35 million to one winner (#s: 18-25-26-32-42-44) and on 1-6-1996 a record $65.2 million British lottery was won by 3 people (#s: 2-3-4-13-42-44) Source

January 7, 1927 Transatlantic commercial telephone service is opened between New York and London.  There were 31 calls made at an average cost of $75.00 for a three minute conversation. Source

January 8, 1954 Elvis Presley pays $4 to a Memphis studio & records his 1st two songs, "Casual Love" & "I'll Never Stand in Your Way" Source

January 9, 2006 First class stamps went up to $.39, a 2 cent increase. Source

January 10, 2000 America Online agrees to purchase Time Warner in a stock swap valued at $156 billion, driving Time Warner stock up by 39%.  Time Warner stock goes on to lose 90% of its value as the supposedly glorious future of AOL goes up in smoke. Source

January 11, 1902 "Popular Mechanics" magazine was published for the first time. Initially, there were only five subscribers paying $1.00 per year and a few hundred others who paid a nickel at newsstands for the weekly issue. Today, the magazine has 1.2 million subscribers. Source

January 12, 1966 "Batman" premieres on ABC TV. Today, Forbes Magazine says fictional Bruce Wayne is worth a fictional $6.5 billion Source

January 13, 1867 Frances Townsend, social reformer, born in Fairbury Il developed a plan to help the elderly proposing $200 monthly pension financed by 2% tax. Source

January 14, 2000 Dow Jones Industrial Average hit record 11,722.98 propelled to peak by over-priced enthusiasm by dot coms which then began to decline. Source

January 15, 1987 Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the nation’s 3 million tenants of low income housing projects have the right to sue over alleged housing law violations. Source

January 16, 2012 Martin Luther King Day: At the age of 35, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

January 17, 1969 President Johnson signed act increasing salary of president from $100,000 to $200,000 beginning with his predecessor. Source

January 18, 2000 Kaiser Family Foundation reported that only 61% of American businesses provide health insurance.  National average cost of family coverage was $145.00 (32% of total cost). Source

January 19, 1949 The salary of the President of the United States was increased from $75,000 to $100,000 with an additional $50,000 expense allowance added for each year in office. Source

January 20, 1974 Congress in face of public opposition repealed a portion of the "Salary Grab Act" of 1873 which raised congressional salaries from $5,000 to $7,500.  Raise of president’s salary to $50,000 retained. Source

January 21, 1994 Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 3,900 (3914.48) for the first time. Source

January 22, 2002 Kmart Corporation becomes the largest retailer in United States history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Source

January 23, 1973 George Foreman took the heavyweight boxing title away from ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica. Each fighter was paid the then-unheard of purse of $2.5 million. Source

January 24, 1916 Supreme Court upheld constitutionality of federal income tax law. Source

January 25, 1905 At the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine's superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the "Cullinan," it was the largest diamond ever found. Source

January 26, 1945 Dan Topping and Del Webb bought the New York Yankees baseball team for $2,800,000. Source


January 27, 1818 Congress fixed its compensation at $8 per day; House Speaker and Senate President to receive $16 per day. Source

January 28, 1791 Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton stepped before the House to deliver a report on the establishment of a national mint.

January 29, 1802 John Beckley became the first Librarian of Congress. He was paid $2 a day. Source

January 30, 2000 As the Internet bubble nears its peak, 17 dot-com companies each spend $73,000 per second for network television ads -- a total of nearly $38 million -- during Super Bowl XXXIV. Source

January 31, 1885 C.D. Wright was appointed as the first Commissioner of Labor in the United States. A lofty job for a gentleman whose salary was $3,000. Of course, in 1885, you could buy a house for $3,000 along with a cow! Source



February 1, 2004 During the Super Bowl on this day in 2004, the first TV commercial airs for the Ford GT, a new, high-performance "supercar" based on Ford's GT40 race car.  The Ford GT that appeared in the 2004 Super Bowl ad was a bigger version of its 1960s namesake and carried a price tag of around $150,000. In 2006 the company announced it would discontinue the car.

February 2, 1987 On this day in 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  In 1993, the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray was shot on a budget of $14.6 million and grosses $70,906,973 at the box office. Source

February 3, 1959 When the Beechcraft Bonanza carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper crashed outside Clear Lake, Iowa, in the early morning hours of February 3, 1959, it struck the ground with such force that all three passengers were killed instantly, and the plane's wreckage was strewn across nearly 300 yards of snow-covered cornfields. The death certificate issued by the Cerro Gordo County Coroner noted the clothing Holly was wearing, the presence of a leather suitcase near his body and the following personal effects:  Cash $193.00 less $11.65 coroner's fees - $181.35. Source

February 4, 1997 A civil jury in Santa Monica, California found O.J. Simpson liable for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman. The jury awarded $8.5 million in compensatory damages to Goldman’s parents. A few days later, the jury added $25 million in punitive damages to go to Nicole Brown Simpson's estate and Goldman’s father. Simpson was later ordered to give up his Heisman Trophy and nearly $500,000 in valuables, including his golf clubs, to help satisfy the judgment.


February 5, 1973 A funeral for LC William Nolde is held.  He was the last US soldier killed in the Vietnam War. The war had cost the U.S. one billion dollars a day at its peak. The cost of the war in 1968 alone was $88,000 million while the combined spending on education, health and housing in that year was $24,000 million.

February 6, 1976 In testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, Lockheed Corporation president Carl Kotchian admits that the company had paid out approximately $3 million in bribes to the office of Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. Source

February 7, 1961 Jane Fonda made her acting debut in the NBC drama "A String of Beads".  As of 2011 Jane Fonda had a net worth of $120 million. Source

February 8, 1971 The NASDAQ stock market index opens for the first time. Source

February 9, 1966 Dow-Jones Index hits a record 995 points. Source

February 10, 1942 The first “gold record” is presented to Glenn Miller for "Chattanooga Choo Choo".  RCA Victor took one of the master copies and sprayed it with gold lacquer as a publicity gimmick to promote the success of the recording.  It had no monetary value. Source

February 11, 1998 KVBC-FM (Las Vegas) offers Monica Lewinsky $5M for an interview. Source

February 12, 1961 Jimmy Dean's “Big Bad John” album is country music first $1,000,000 seller. Source

February 13, 1866 Jesse James holds up his 1st bank in Liberty MO, his take was $15,000. Source

February 14, 2009 Over $17 billion was spent on Valentine’s gifts according the IBIS World annual holiday sales forecast. Source

February 15, 2001 The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens after 11 years and $27,000,000 to fortify it, without fixing its famous lean. Source

February 16, 1952 Hall of Famer Honus Wagner’s jersey is retired.  His 1909 baseball card was sold to an anonymous private collector at auction in 2007 for $2.8 million Source

February 17, 1867 The first ship passes through the Suez Canal.  The total original cost of building the canal was about $100 million, about twice its original estimated coast. However, about three times that sum was spent on later repairs and improvements. Source

February 18, 2010 The US Mint releases the 2010 Millard Fillmore Presidential dollar coin to circulation. Source

February 19, 1878 Thomas Alva Edison receives a patent for his “tin-foil talking phonograph,” ancestor of the modern record-player and the first device to make sound recording practical. As of 2011 the approximate cost for a patent on a Complex Mechanical Invention is between $9,000 and $13,000. Source

February 20, 1988 Peter Kalikow purchases New York Post from Rupert Murdoch for $37.6 million. Source

February 21, 1994 CIA operative Aldrich Ames is arrested for selling secrets to the Soviet Union. Maria del Rosario Casas Ames, Aldrich's wife, who had been a paid CIA source, was also charged for her role in accepting approximately $2.5 million (the most the Soviets ever paid a foreign spy) for providing highly confidential information to the KGB. Source

February 22, 1974 The Symbionese Liberation Army demanded $4 million more for the release of Patty Hearst. Hearst had been kidnapped on February 4th and her father, publisher Randolph Hearst, had already coughed up $2 million hoping for her freedom. Randolph said he would consider this request too. Source

February 23, 1947 Gen Eisenhower opens drive to raise $170M in aid for European Jews. Source


February 24, 1988 Hustler Magazine, Inc. et al. v. Jerry Falwell; aka The First Amendment on Trial: The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a $200,000 award that Rev. Jerry Falwell, leader of the ‘Moral Majority’, had won against "Hustler" magazine and publisher Larry Flynt, the self-proclaimed ‘Duke of Raunch’. "Hustler" had run an ad parody of Falwell’s first sexual experience. Source

February 25, 1938 America's first-ever drive-in opened near Camden, New Jersey, on June 6, 1933, and was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, whose family owned an auto parts company. The inaugural feature was a 1932 film called "Wives Beware," and admission was 25 cents per car and an additional 25 cents per person. Source

February 26, 1907 Members of the U.S. Congress raised their own pay to $7500 each. Both House and Senate members receive the same wages. The Cabinet members and the Vice President would earn $12,000. If you don’t think they were being paid very much for their services, consider that the Vice President was getting enough to buy at least half a dozen houses ... and the richest man in the world was said to be John D. Rockefeller, whose oil fortune was worth no more than $300 million at the time. Source

February 27, 1827 On this day in 1827, a group of masked and costumed students dance through the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, marking the beginning of the city's famous Mardi Gras celebrations. The 2009 Mardi Gras celebration resulted in a direct economic impact of $145.7 million and an indirect impact of $322 million in the city of New Orleans. Source

February 28, 1849 First band of gold seekers arrived in San Fransciso aboard the California Source


March 1, 2000 An AC/DC fan paid $28,100 for a music lesson from the group's lead guitarist, Angus Young. Wade Sickler of Washington made the winning bid in an online charity auction to benefit the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation. Source

March 2, 1955 President Eisenhower signed act raising Vice President salary from $30,000 to $35,000; congressmen from $15,000 to $22,500; Supreme Court justice from $22,500 to $35,000; associate judges from $25,000 to $35,000. Source

March 3, 1843 Congress appropriates $30,000 "to test the practicability of establishing a system of electro-magnetic telegraphs" by the US. Source

March 4, 2011 The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) states it could save $5.5 billion in 30 years if dollar bills are replaced with coins. Source

March 5, 2002 Tariffs as high as 30% placed on imported steel products; intended to protect U.S. manufacturers. Source

March 6, 1833 Abraham Lincoln received a saloon license to dispense liquor in Springfield, Illinois (Berry and Lincoln) but he never used it. Source

March 7, 1933 The game of "Monopoly" is invented by Charles Darrow. He later sold his rights to the game to Parker Brothers and became a millionaire at age 46. Source

March 8, 1986 Martina Navratilova is 1st tennis player to earn over $10 million. Source

March 9, 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt signed emergency Banking Relief Act authorizing the Treasury Secretary to call in all gold and gold certificates; it banned hoarding and exporting gold.  Source

March 10, 1998 The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) announced that food stamps were issued to nearly 26,000 dead people in 1995-1996; food stamps valued at $8.5 million were issued to 25,881 deceased people during that period. Source

March 11, 1927 The Flatheads Gang was responsible for the first armored-car robbery near Pittsburgh, PA. It was reported that $104,250 was taken in the heist. Source

March 12, 2009 Financier Bernard Madoff plead guilty in New York to scamming $18 billion, the largest in Wall Street history. Source

March 13, 1996 Ligget Group agreed to pay 5% of its annual pre-tax income up to $50 million for 25 years to programs to help smokers give up the habit. Source

March 14, 1923 U.S. President Warren G. Harding became the first Chief Executive to pay taxes and account for his income. Harding’s tax bill amounted to nearly $18,000. Source

March 15, 2000 In the first major effort to make ATMs generally available to the blind, Bank of America announced their intention to systematically upgrade all of its 14,000 ATMs to provide verbal instructions. Source

March 16, 1915 The Federal Trade Commission begins operation. The US government appointed five commissioners to receive $10,000 each year to regulate commerce and prohibit unlawful trade. Source

March 17, 1837 Andrew Jackson leaves the Presidency "with barely $90 in my pocket".


March 18, 2003 About $1 billion was taken from Iraq's Central Bank by Saddam Hussein and his family, just hours before the United States began bombing Iraq, biggest bank robbery in history. Source

March 19, 1831 1st U.S. bank robbery (City Bank, New York/$245,000) Source

March 20, 1992 Janice Pennington is awarded $1.3M for accident on Price is Right set. Source

March 21, 1981 A procession was planned for Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding. Standing room spaces along the parade route were being offered from $200.00 each. Source

March 22, 2000 Some 1,100 women denied jobs with the now-defunct U.S. Information Agency and its broadcast branch, the Voice of America, won $508 million from the government in the largest-ever settlement of a federal sex discrimination case. Source

March 23, 1990 Former Exxon Valdez Captain Joseph Hazelwood ordered to help clean up Prince William Sound & pay $50,000 in restitution for 1989 oil spill. Source

March 24, 1958 - Elvis Presley reported to local draft board 86 in Memphis, TN. He became US 53310761. Oddly, since Elvis was now ‘government property’ serving his time in the Army, Uncle Sam stood to lose an estimated $500,000 in lost taxes each year now that Private Presley was in the Army.

March 25, 1937 - Babe Ruth was reported to have received $25,000 a year for the Quaker Oats Company to use his name in ads for Quaker Oatmeal.

March 26, 1981 A jury in Los Angeles awarded entertainer Carol Burnett $1.6 million from the "National Enquirer" for an article she'd charged was libelous. (The award was later reduced, and the two parties settled out of court). Source

March 27, 1970 Phil Spector works on the Beatles Let It Be album. Phil Spector is a record producer and song writer who amassed a net worth of $100 million by 2010. Source

March 28, 1982 12th Easter Seal Telethon raises $19,500,000 Source

March 29, 1989 Michael Milken is indicted on 98 felony charges of violating Federal securities laws as head of the junk-bond desk at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Prosecutors disclose that he earned $550 million in compensation in 1986 -- but almost nothing else they fling at Milken sticks. Source

March 30, 1867 U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward reached agreement with Russia to purchase the territory of Alaska for $7.2 million dollars, a deal roundly ridiculed as "Seward's Folly." Source

March 31, 1917 U.S. purchases Danish West Indies for $25M and renames them Virgin Islands. Source



April 1, 1778 A New Orleans businessman, Oliver Pollock, created the “$” symbol. Source

April 2, 1792 The U.S. Congress passed the Coinage Act to regulate the coins of the United States. The act authorized $10 Eagle, $5 half-Eagle & 2.50 quarter-Eagle gold coins & silver dollar, dollar, quarter, dime & half-dime to be minted. Source

April 3, 1860 The Pony Express service began as the first rider departed St. Joseph, Missouri. For $5 an ounce, letters were delivered 2,000 miles to California within ten days. The service lasted less than two years, ending upon the completion of the overland telegraph. Source

April 4, 1967 Johnny Carson quit "The Tonight Show." He returned three weeks later after getting a raise of $30,000 a week. Source

April 5, 1990 An incarcerated James Brown is transferred from a Georgia jail to the Lower Savannah Work Center, in South Carolina. While serving out his sentence he counsels drug abusers for $4 an hour. Source

April 6, 1916 Charlie Chaplin became the highest-paid film star in the world when he signed a contract with Mutual Film Corporation for $675,000 a year. He was 26 years old. Source

April 7, 1978 Guttenberg Bible sold for $2,000,000 in NYC. Source

April 8, 1998 George Michael was released on bail. The arrest was for engaging in lewd conduct in a park restroom.  He posted $500.00 bail and was released. Source

April 9, 1833 The first tax-supported public library is established in Peterborough, NH. Source

April 10, 1849 The safety pin is patented by Walter Hunt. He badly needed money and sold the rights for $100.00. 

April 11, 1921 Iowa became the first state to impose a cigarette tax. Source

April 12, 1945 General Eisenhower is shown the first cave where the Nazis hoarded $250 million in captured treasures, one half-mile under the earth's surface. Source

April 13, 1976 The $2 bill is re-introduced as US currency.

April 14, 1956 Ampex Corporation of Redwood City, CA demonstrated the first commercial magnetic tape recorder for sound and picture. The videotape machine had a price tag of $75,000 and was too large to fit in a small room. Source

April 15, 1962 The U.S. national debt rises above $300,000,000,000. Source

April 16, 1905 Andrew Carnegie donated $10,000,000 of personal money to set up the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Source

April 17, 1975 Elvis Presley bought a Convair 880 jet formerly owned by Delta Airlines for $250,000, then spent $600,000 refurbishing it to include personal quarters, a meeting area and a dance floor. Source

April 18, 1985 Liberace breaks his own record at Radio City Music Hall, pulling in two million dollars for his latest engagement. Source

April 19, 1965 At a cost of $20,000, the outer Astrodome ceiling is painted because of sun's glare, this causes the grass to die. Source

April 20, 1992 Madonna signs $60-million deal with Time Warner. Source

April 21, 1956 Leonard Ross, age 10, became the youngest prizewinner on the "The Big Surprise". He won $100,000. Source

April 22, 1981 The largest US bank robbery to date occurred in Tucson Arizona, more than $3.3 million was stolen. Source

April 23, 1859 The Colorado Territory's first newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, goes on sale for 25 cents per copy, payable in either cash or gold dust. Source: Chronicles of America 1997

April 24, 1961 Bob Dylan earned a $50 session fee for playing harmonica on Harry Belafonte's "Midnight Special." It was his recording debut. Source

April 25, 1990 The Fender Stratocaster on which Jimi Hendrix played "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock sells at a London auction for $295,000. Source

April 26, 1957 Harry Belafonte signs a $1 million contract with his record label. Source

April 27, 1953 The U.S. offered $50,000 and political asylum to any Communist pilot that delivered a MIG jet. Source

April 28, 1984 "Mama He’s Crazy" by the Judds entered the country music charts. Nurse Naomi Judd had given the tape, made on a $30 Kmart cassette recorder, to a producer’s daughter, who was in the hospital. Source

April 29, 1992 Deadly rioting claims 54 lives and causes $1 billion in damage erupted in Los Angeles after a jury in Simi Valley acquitted four Los Angeles police officers of almost all state charges in the videotaped beating of Rodney King.

April 30, 1964 The Beatles receive a $140,000 royalty check for the use of their name on Beatles Chewing Gum. Source


May 1, 1969 Jimi Hendrix was arrested at Toronto International Airport for possession of narcotics and was released on $10,000 bail. Source

May 2, 1865 U.S. President Andrew Johnson offered $100,000 reward for the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Source

May 3, 2000 Rapper DMX was sentenced to 15 days in jail after he pled guilty to drug possession charges, driving without a license and outstanding parking tickets. He was also fined $350. Source

May 4, 1626 Indians sell Manhattan Island for $24 in cloth & buttons. Source

May 5, 2004 Picasso's 1905 painting "Boy with a Pipe" sold for $104 million at Sotheby's in New York, setting a new record for an auctioned painting. Source May 6, 1935 The Works Progress Administration (WPA), opens allowing thousands of unemployed Americans decent-paying jobs on a wide range of public works projects including parks, playgrounds, major infrastructure projects, schools and post-offices. During it's existence the WPA was responsible for employing 8.5 million Americans during its eight-years

May 7, 1998 Mercedes-Benz buys Chrysler for $40 billion and forms DaimlerChrysler in the largest industrial merger in history. Source

May 8, 1988 Mike Tyson crashes his $183,000 Bently on Varick St in NYC. Source

May 9, 1936 The first sheet of postage stamps of more than one variety went on sale -- in New York City.

May 10, 1773 The English Parliament passed the Tea Act, which taxed all tea in the U.S. colonies. Source

May 11, 1904 Andrew Carnegie donates $1.5M to build a peace palace. Source

May 12, 2008 In the U.S., the price for a one-ounce First-Class stamp increased from 41 to 42 cents.

May 13, 1927 "Black Friday" on Berlin Stock Exchange

May 14, 1998 Last episode of Seinfeld on NBC (commercials are $2M for 30 seconds). Source
May 15, 1934 Dept of Justice offers $25,000 reward for Dillinger, dead or alive. Source May 16, 1861 Confederate government offers war volunteers $10 premium. Source
May 17, 1989 Vincent Van Gogh's "Portrait of Dr Gachet"" auctioned for $825 million". Source

May 18, 1990 The largest Art robbery in the history occurred at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where 12 paintings valued at $100 million are stolen.

May 19, 1962 Marilyn Monroe performed a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for President John F. Kennedy for his 45th birthday during a fund-raiser at New York's Madison Square Garden. The dress she wore that night had 2500 rhinestones sewn into it and was designed by Jean Louis. The dress sold in 1999 at auction in New York for over$1.26 million. Source

May 20, 1874 Levi Strauss markets blue jeans with copper rivets, price $13.50 doz.

May 21, 1927 Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris, completing the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight. Lindbergh was the dark horse when he entered a competition for a $25,000 prize to anyone able to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. Source

May 22, 2003 The final manuscript of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony sold at an auction for $3.47 million.

May 23, 1867 Jesse James-gang rob a bank in Richmond Missouri. 2 die and $4,000 is taken.

May 24, 1868 The Reno Gang pulled off the great train robbery at Marshfield, IN. They hauled in $98,000.

May 25, 1922 Babe Ruth is suspended 1 day and fined $200 for throwing dirt on an umpire.

May 26, 1956 The first trailer bank opened for business in Locust Grove, Long Island, NY. The 46-foot-long trailer took in $100,000 in deposits its first day.

May 27, 1985 Spend-A-Buck won the Jersey Derby by a neck and earned a record $2.6 million. The thoroughbred won an extra $2 million dollars for sweeping the Jersey Derby, the Garden State Stakes, the Cherry Hill Mile and the Kentucky Derby. Career earnings for the horse were $3,009,509.

May 28, 1962 The U.S. stock market drops $20.8 billion in 1 day.

May 29, 2010 Robbers stole $5.5 million from a southern Iraqi state bank after giving guards tea laced with a sleeping drug. May 30, 1848 México ratifies a treaty giving the United States; New Mexico, California & parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona & Colorado in return for $15 million.

May 31, 1943 Joe Namath is born in Beaver Falls PA.  The NFL Quarterback (New York Jets) "The $400,000 man" was the MVP of the 1969 Superbowl.